Facing the Holidays Alone

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For Nancy, 71, this Thanksgiving and Christmas will look different than in years past. She is facing the holiday season alone without Steve, her husband of 47 years, a career Army man who died in July.

“That made me mad, because I was supposed to die first, not my husband,” Nancy fumed. “I’ve had three heart attacks and a light stroke, and then I broke my back. I’m the one that got sick, but he got colon cancer, and he kept that from me for a whole year!”

Nancy has no children and no other family support nearby, so she will be alone for the holidays for the first time. A neighbor helps her with the occasional grocery run—milk, bread, TV dinners and the like. Nancy orders food delivered direct to her door for her dog and cat, Peanut and Keykey, her constant companions. Recently, she learned about home-delivered meals through CICOA’s Meals & More service and signed up.

“It’s not like I can fix dinner,” she said. “I’m weak, and I can’t walk very far.”

Her favorite meal is the barbecue chicken with whipped sweet potatoes.

“That is the best!” Nancy said. “I just went through a new box of meals, and I thought if I have that dinner, I’m gonna eat that first!”

A lifetime of companionship

Originally from Greenfield and Shelbyville, respectively, Nancy and Steve met on a blind date.

“I couldn’t get rid of him,” she said.

They moved frequently during Steve’s military career. He was stationed in both Korea and Turkey. She could not join him there, but she did go with him to Germany for several years, and they moved all over the United States.

Nancy worked as a certified nurse’s aide for 32 years, a physically demanding job that required a lot of lifting and pulling.

“I changed patients—big guys and stuff, you know—and I just got burned out. I told Steve, ‘I gotta have a sit-down job,’” she said.

After Steve retired from the Army, they moved from New York back to Indianapolis, and he took a job working at Reception Diagnostic Center in Plainfield. He encouraged Nancy to apply for a job there as a correctional officer.

“I did that for six years, and that was a job I really, truly liked,” she said. “But then I got sick.”

Her first holidays alone

Nancy has lost 35 pounds since Steve died. Now down to 90 pounds, she wonders whether she has another health problem in addition to her grief. She has some tests scheduled for January, but until then, she feels anxious about her health. She also worries about paying her bills.

“Oh, that’s a big, big worry,” she said.

CICOA’s Meals & More service has taken one burden off Nancy’s mind, as she now has a ready supply of delicious, nutritious meals on hand to eat.

As you prepare for the holidays this year, know that Nancy and others like her are truly thankful for you and the meals you help make possible today and every day.

Give now to help provide a steady source of meals for homebound seniors this holiday season and into the cold, hard winter.

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